Saturday, April 3, 2010

Replicating the Big Bang

The recent news that the Large Hadron collider (LHC) successfully smashed two opposing beams of protons together at an energy of 3.5 Tev apiece is good news. It means that we are that much closer to replicating the conditions of the Big Bang in the laboratory - or at least in the LHC! Indeed, the (kinetic) temperatures produced in the recent collision were actually of such magnitude that they'd not been seen since the actual Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago.

(Side note: The temperatures of which we speak are kinetic temperatures.That is to say, the magnitude of the temperature is almost totally invested in the particle motion, as opposed to heat content. Recall the heat content: Q = mc, where m is the mass and c the heat capacity. In this case, since the mass is so low, the heat Q would also be- though the internal energy U, in the mass m, would be very high by virtue of the fact it is comprised of the kinetic energies: K= [p^c^2 + m^2c^4]^1/2 - mc^2, of the relativistic particles of the beams. These yield velocities near the speed of light: v = 2.7 x 10^8 m/s).

When will we know IF the conditions of the Big Bang have actually been attained, as opposed to just seeing kinetic temperatures (T_e) at that scale? I believe it will happen IF we can confirm detection of the Higgs particle. How or WHERE does the Higgs enter the picture- given we are so desperately looking for it since it is presumed to be the mass-generating boson of the cosmos?

The so-called 'Standard Model' is generally defined as the symmetry:

SU(3) x SU(2) X U(1)

where each of the above represent different matrices (see for example, the diagram for SU(2).

Spontaneous symmetry breaking would therefore resolve this combination into constituent parts, e.g.: SU(3) associated with the 'color force' of quarks, SU(2) x U(1) associated with the electro-weak force. One possible symmetry breaking (quark -boson format) is:

SU(3) x SU(2) X U(1) -> SU(3) + SU(2) x U(1)

which would occur at a particular ambient temperature (T_qb) for the universe at some epoch (E_qb) in the past

In the foregoing, the synthesis of SU(2) and U(1) into the locally gauge invariant electro-weak theory requires a mechanism which confers mass to three vector bosons while leaving the photon massless. This 'mass-giving' mechanism is called the Higgs Field or Higgs mechanism, and it demands the existence of one or more massive, spin-0 bosons otherwise called Higgs bosons.

What if there is no Higgs detected? (This may not mean no Higgs exists - since evidence of absence need not be absence of evidence!). If not, then the standard model basically unravels, and we don't really know what we're talking about. Or at least theorizing about. You take away the Higgs, especially via the SU(2) and U(1) connections, and the whole tapestry we need to define mass essentially unravels. (Again, much higher energies may be needed to get it)

Even if we identify the Higgs, we haven't been liberated from the problems for the Standard model. There are other deficiencies, including: i) the Standard model cannot predict the coupling constants (e, g, g_s etc.); ii) it doesn't predict the mixing of quarks or the absence of mixing of lepton generations via the weak interaction; iii) the fermion masses are parameters that have to be experimentally determined; iv) the masses of the Z and W bosons- though predicted -depend on the Higgs mechanisms - but as I noted, this is what we need to find with the LHC!

Personally, I suspect that before the Higgs is found, the LHC will generate mini-black holes first. These would be about half the size of a hydrogen atom, maybe smaller. Will they "eat up" the world? Not likely, since a mini-black hole is really a quantum entity and leaks radiation all the time, eventually (after a few nanoseconds) vanishing.

Nor would I worry about a Big Bang - if finally replicated - blowing up the world. Again, none of the temperatures will actually produce the heat associated with that primodial event, only the kinetic temperatures!

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